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66th UN General Assembly: EU high level presence in New York

Commission Européenne - MEMO/11/609   16/09/2011

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MEMO/11/609

Brussels, 16 September 2011

66th UN General Assembly: EU high level presence in New York

The beginning of the 66th UN General Assembly will be marked next week with the traditional General Debate. This will be the first General Debate since the adoption of the historic resolution 65/276 in May, under which the EU statement in the General Debate will be delivered for the first time by the President of the European Council.

In addition to President Van Rompuy’s presence during the so-called ministerial week, the EU will be represented by the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, High-Representative/Vice-President Ashton, as well as by Commissioners Piebalgs, Dalli, Georgieva and Hedegaard.

President Barroso will participate in a number of high-level events such as:

  • the Leaders’ Dialogue on Climate Change, sponsored by President Zuma of South Africa and President Calderón of Mexico, where Heads of State and Government will discuss the preparation for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Durban in November this year;

  • the High-Level Event on Nuclear Safety, hosted by the UN Secretary General, which takes place in parallel with the IAEA 55th General Conference in Vienna and at which the President will press for stricter global rules on nuclear safety;

  • the High-Level Event on Libya, where, further to the International Libya Conference in Paris held on 1 September, the President will outline the Commission's key contribution to reconstruction and state-building in post-conflict Libya;

  • the Executive Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative, where President Barroso will present the EU's leading work on resource efficiency and the green economy in the framework of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

President Barroso will also hold bilateral meetings with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and a number of Heads of State and Government.

The Middle East Peace Process, the Arab Spring, Libya and Syria will dominate meeting agendas and thus the programme of High Representative/Vice-President Ashton throughout the ministerial week.

She will also participate in the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Symposium on Counter-Terrorism, at which she will deliver the closing address on Monday the 19th. Later in the week, she will also address the US/Turkey-hosted launch of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum. The High Representative/Vice-President will participate in the High-Level Meeting on Libya as well as the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting on the Deauville Partnership and the mini-summit on Somalia hosted by UNSG Ban Ki-moon. Among other activities, the HRVP Ashton will also address the EU-sponsored High-Level Meeting on Women and Political Participation.

One year after the Millennium Development Goals Summit, Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development, will present progress on how the EU is delivering on its announcement to support the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with €1 billion. Commissioner Piebalgs will also be appointed by Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General, as a member of High-Level Group of Sustainable Energy for All. This Group, consisting of international leaders from governments, private sector and civil society, will aim at developing and facilitating the implementation of the strategy to achieve Sustainable Energy for All by 2030. In addition, Commissioner Piebalgs will participate in the Haiti Partners ministerial meeting together with Haitian President Michel Joseph Martelly. During his visit, Commissioner Piebalgs will also participate in High-Level Meetings on Inclusive Sustainable Growth; Nutrition; Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought in the Context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication; and Empowering Rural Women for Food and Nutrition Security.

Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli, will be amongst the policy makers gathering at the UN General Assembly for a high level meeting on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). International leaders will discuss action to prevent the four main NCDs – cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung diseases and diabetes. Commissioner Dalli will participate in one of the three thematic round tables: "The rising incidence, developmental and other challenges and the social and economic impact of NCDs and their risk factors". Each round table will include Member States, observers and representatives of the United Nations network, civil society and the private sector. Summaries from the three dialogues will be presented at the closing plenary meeting and will be incorporated into a concise action-oriented Political Declaration on the prevention and control of NCDs to be adopted at the close of the meeting. After its adoption, Commissioner Dalli will deliver a statement on the Declaration.

During his visit to New York, Commissioner Dalli, will hold bilateral talks with Dr Margaret Chan (tbc), Director of the World Health Organisation, Dr Thomas Farley, Health Commissioner for New York City and Health Ministers from Russia (tbc), China, France, Poland, Greece, Denmark and Hungary. The prevention of non-communicable diseases is high on the political agenda on healthcare across the European Union and a priority for Commisisoner Dalli. In the margins of the UN meetings he will seek to exchange views and advance the agenda on health determinants such as tobacco, nutrition and alcohol.

The UNGA and the annual World Bank-IMF meetings are also bringing Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, to the US. In Washington, she will hold bilateral meetings with high officials from USAID and American NGOs (22 September). On Friday 23 September she will be delivering a talk at the Atlantic Council on the EU response to recent humanitarian challenges. Commissioner Georgieva will also take part in a WB-IMF Annual Meetings Seminar Panel Discussion on disaster resilience. On Saturday 24 September, Commissioner Georgieva will be in New York where she will present the EU reaction to the famine and drought in the Horn of Africa at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Ministerial Meeting on Humanitarian Response to the Horn of Africa. She will also hold meetings with the heads of OCHA and the UN World Food Programme.

Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, will participate in a series of high-level meetings in connection with the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. Many of the meetings will help to prepare the UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa, at the end of the year. On 18-19 September Commissioner Hedegaard will participate in a meeting of the High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, which has been mandated to formulate a global blueprint for sustainable growth and low-carbon prosperity ahead of the 'Rio +20' UN Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in June 2012. Commissioner Hedegaard was appointed to the Global Sustainability Panel by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon when he created it last year. On 20 September the Climate Commissioner will speak at a meeting of the Troika of Women Leaders on Gender and Climate Change, hosted by former Irish President Mary Robinson, and at a "Leaders' Dialogue" on climate change hosted by Mexico and South Africa, the hosts of the 2010 and 2011 UN climate conferences, respectively. The focus will be on what can be achieved at the Durban conference. Commissioner Hedegaard will also take part in a panel discussion on climate change at the Louise Blouin Creative Leadership Summit. On 22 September Commissioner Hedegaard will hold talks with Todd Stern, the US Special Envoy for Climate Change. During her visit she will also have bilateral meetings with ministers or senior officials from many other countries including Japan, Mali, Tunisia, Nepal, Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkey and Nauru.

Background:

The 66th session of the UN General Assembly opened officially on 13 September. The General debate starts on 21 September.

During that week, world leaders gather in New York to attend the General debate and high level meetings organised by the UN. At the EU level, the agenda is marked by participation in high-level meetings, a number of political dialogue meetings as well as bilateral contacts.


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